The government on Sunday said that after the telecom revolution in India, the BharatNet project will be the biggest user of ‘Made in India’ equipment, “ruggedised” to suit the Indian rural conditions.

Both the fibre and the Gigabit-capable Passive Optical Networks (GPON) equipment are fully made in India with C-DOT (Centre for Development of Telematics technology, Aruna Sundararajan, Secretary, Department of Telecom (DoT), told newspersons here.

This is significant because the equipment is completely indigenous and has been customised so that it can work in rural environments, where there are power issues and dust is a big factor, she said.

No foreign companies will be allowed in the future as well, she said, adding that it will be all ‘Made in India’ equipment — GPON, optical line terminals, and optical network terminal — for broadband connections.

Companies working for the BharatNet project include Paramount, Sterlite and Tejas. Telcos Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio, Vodafone India and Idea have also expressed interest in providing last-mile connectivity on BharatNet infrastructure, she said.

According to Sundararajan, the first phase of BharatNet is on track and will be completed by December, which will then connect one lakh gram panchayats (around three lakh villages). And, once the second phase is also complete (by March 2019), the project will contribute a lot to the country’s growth, she added.

Kerala, Karnataka and Haryana have already achieved BharatNet connectivity, she added. “We expect a 10 per cent increase in Internet usage in India will lead to a 3.3 per cent increase in GDP. That means around ₹4.5 lakh crore can be potentially added to GDP once this network reaches all institutions and individuals on completion of phase-II,” Sundararajan said.

“In the first phase, the project has done around 1 lakh km per year and that means in the last three years we have done 3 lakh km. This means we are adding 10 per cent fibre footprint to the country per year through BharatNet,” she said.

India is laying around 250 km of fibre per day, but to complete the BharatNet project by 2019 the government needs to lay 500 km per day, she added.

Wi-Fi hotspots

The government is also investing in setting up Wi-Fi hotspots through which it expects to cover 100 million citizens by 2020. Currently, India has around 36,000 Wi-Fi spots. “There will be two-three hotspots per gram panchayat. We expect this project to be complete by 2018. We will float a tender shortly for this," she said.

A memorandum of understanding, she said, will be signed with seven States — Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Jharkhand — on Monday for implementation of BharatNet phase-II.